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11 Oct

Retailers May See Year-End Rally

Things are looking up with the economy as two big-ticket sales items — cars and homes — have rebounded this fall. It also bodes well for mobile electronics retailers who, along with the rest of the retail community, may see a healthy holiday selling season both in stores and online.

Autos were driven off lots at the highest sales rate in four years, according to the research firm Autodata. Overall, a total of 1.19 million cars, trucks and SUVs were sold in the U.S. during September, a 13 percent jump from a year ago. Japanese and German manufacturers led the way.

Boosting car sales were several factors: consumers who needed to replace aging vehicles, an influx of fuel-efficient cars now on the market, and cheaper loans.

GM, the largest U.S. automaker, said sales of its mini, small and compact cars almost doubled during September. Ford's small car sales rose about 73 percent. Chrysler said its September sales increased roughly 12 percent from the year-ago period. The company said it sold 142,000 vehicles, and each of its brands had gains, led by an 18 percent increase at Dodge largely because of the introduction of the Dodge Dart. Volkswagen said it sold 48,000 Volkswagen and Audi brand vehicles in September, a 32.4 percent increase from a year ago.

The nation enjoyed another year-over-year surge in home prices (9.5 percent) in August — a sign that the housing industry, too, is making a comeback. The National Association of Realtors forecasts U.S. existing-home sales to rise about 9 percent this year.

Both key trends reflect rising consumer confidence in the economy, a reassuring sign heading into the all-important fourth quarter.

Even with political uncertainty and fiscal challenges, the holiday season looks promising with a projected 4.1 percent increase to $586.1 billion, according to the National Retail Federation.  

According to the NRF, it’s the most optimistic forecast the association has released since the recession.

“In spite of the uncertainties that exist in our economy and among consumers, we believe we’ll see solid holiday sales growth this year,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Variables including an upcoming presidential election, confusion surrounding the ‘fiscal cliff’ and concern relating to future economic growth could all combine to affect consumers’ spending plans, but overall we are optimistic that retailers promotions will hit the right chord with holiday shoppers.”

For the first time in its history, just released its 2012 online holiday sales forecast, expecting sales to grow 12 percent over last holiday season to as much as $96 billion. defines the holiday season as sales in the months of November and December.

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